This was never going to be a very exciting hot stove season for Yankee fans. The bombers need one thing, and one thing only: Starting pitching. Unfortunately, there is never much of that to go around and this year the pickings are especially slim. So far, the Yankees have gone about their own business. They pretty much made sure that CC Sabathia will retire a Yankee. They’ve also resigned Freddy Garcia to a reasonable one year deal (although Bartolo Colon may have been the better pitcher over the entirety of 2011). With those two signings, the Yankees already have a full rotation, once you add A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova to the mix. That isn’t the best rotation, but it will get the job done if the Yankees remain luke-warm on C.J. Wilson and Yu Darvish.
In addition, the Yankees don’t have a single opening in the field. They’ll return all three outfielders, their entire infield (provided Russell Martin returns, which is highly probable) and have numerous options at DH (cough … Jesus Montero … cough, cough). All in, the Yankees have a team that will compete in the AL East right now, with ample flexibility to make improvements on an as-needed basis. That’s an enviable position, all without spending on expensive free-agents.
None of this is to say that I would be surprised if the Yankees made a move this offseason. They’re typically active every offseason, but unless a deal lands in Brian Cashman’s lap I’m expecting nothing more than a trade for a decent but not game changing starter.
The simple truth is that in addition to having a complete, competitive roster right now, the Yankees are in as close to a rebuilding phase as the team will ever get. Slowly but surely, one-by-one, the old Yankee guard is fading away. Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada have already rode off into the sunset and Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are not far behind. After winning the World Series in 2009, the Yankee brass may feel more pressure to free up salary and roster space for a future generation of Yankees than to over pay for mid-level talent right now. With a wealth of options in the minor league system as well as ample financial resources, the Yankees have a strong incentive to invest wisely over the next couple of seasons even if that means forgoing a few wins along the way. This may be as exciting as this offseason gets.